Toll-Free Number for AdoptionSee our free advice on toll-free service providers at the bottom of this post.

During the early years of My Adoption Advisor, we offered different research reports to adopting parents. One of those reports was titled “Toll-Free Service Providers Research Report.” The following true story chronicles my experience establishing (OK, trying to establish) a toll-free number through an adopting parent’s local phone service provider.

I was sharing our Toll-Free Service Providers Research Report this afternoon with a woman who is just beginning her second domestic adoption. She and her husband did not use a toll-free number during their first go-around so the information in the report was quite new to her. When I asked her who she would call to set up toll-free service, she said she would call her local phone service provider, QWEST. She guessed it would cost about $100 per month. I thought I would help her out and save her some time so I made the service call myself.

The following is the true recap of the last 25 minutes and 11 seconds of my life.

  • 0:00-0:43 The good news is that it only took me 43 seconds to get through the menu system and into a queue to talk to a person. This was pretty quick. So far so good.
  • 0:43-8:29 After almost 8 minutes on hold, someone finally picked up my call.
  • 8:29-11:30 We then spent another 2 minutes verifying my account information (what’s the billing address, who else is on the account, what are the last four digits of your social security number, etc.).
  • 11:30-13:45 Finally, it was time to address my question: What does it cost to set up a toll-free number? The first thing I learned was that I need to contract with a 3rd party long-distance provider, such as AT&T or Sprint, prior to getting a number from QWEST. The QWEST representative said, “The long distance carrier will charge you a monthly fee and a per-minute charge, but you will have to research them yourself to find the best provider and deal.” “Ok. I’ll deal with that later,” I said. “What are the QWEST charges?”
  • 13:45-15:48 pause…typing…pause…sigh. “Can I put you on hold for a moment?” Sure. Did I have a choice? Two minutes later…
  • 15:48-23:45 He’s back. The QWEST representative quoted me a $25 set-up fee, a $5 per month charge, a $0.55 per call charge, plus a $0.10 per minute charge. Don’t forget that the long-distance carrier will charge me for calls that originate outside of my area, in addition to the $0.10 per minute charge. If I wanted a 2nd line for the toll-free number, there would be additional charges, of course.
  • 23:45-25:11 With my questions answered I tried to get off the phone, but the representative needed to make sure I was getting the best deal on the my existing services (meaning he had to try to sell me something before letting me go).

Here’s what I already know from my research on toll-free service providers:

  • Don’t call your local carrier. Their costs are not competitive (neither are their features, by the way) and spending 25 minutes talking to customer service is generally not a great use of anyone’s time.
  • If you spend more than $2.00 for a set-up fee you are paying too much.
  • If your service provider charges you more than $2.00/month just to use them, you are paying too much.
  • If you Google “toll-free numbers,” you will get something like 23 million results. The good news is that it takes just 0.38 seconds to get them!

I like QWEST. I have used several of their products for years. It’s just that they are NOT the place to go to get a toll-free number.

Here’s some free advice based on our research of toll-free service providers. Of the 20+ providers we analyzed, Kall8 offers the best features for adoption at an incredibly low cost.